Fighting Obesity Through Family Fitness
By Amy Rauworth
Be a positive role model. Make health a priority in your life. Demonstrate healthy lifestyle choices such as including exercise in your daily schedule, being active whenever possible, which could include using the stairs when possible or parking further away from the entrance of a store, and maintaining a balanced diet (see this month's nutrition corner for tips on introducing healthy foods to children).
Teach children the positive benefits of physical activity such as improved fitness, which makes all activities of daily living easier, or increased self-esteem and mood. Children are never too young to begin to learn that the choices that they make affect their health and that physical activity can improve their quality of life.
Leave your car at home and make walking/moving your method of transportation. Walk to the park and play games on the way. For example, the red light/green light game could be used for a child with autism. Instead of saying stop and go, use facial expressions or non-verbal cues to represent stop and go. The entire family can play and the time spent walking to the park will not even be noticed.
Limit sedentary activities such as watching TV and recreational computer use. Children who watch more than 5 hours of TV a day were almost 5 times more likely to be obese than children who watch no TV or less than 2 hours a day. Studies have also shown that reducing TV viewing time was associated with reductions in body weight and body fat.
Assign active household chores such as vacuuming, dusting, or making the bed. Every movement counts - this purposeful movement will increase activity and teach responsibility.
Encourage participation in sports and other outdoor recreation. As the holidays approach, many family traditions are based around food. This is an opportunity to begin a new family tradition that is focused on physical activity. On Thanksgiving Day, get the entire family involved in an outdoor scavenger hunt. The boundaries can be limited to your yard or can span several blocks of your neighborhood.